DEARBORN, MI – A sophisticated Jeep design that cleverly integrates battery-powered bicycles that fold into the vehicle’s rear-cargo area, and a bold new concept for a Honda cross/utility vehicle that rethinks personal mobility, win top student interior design awards here at the WardsAuto Interiors Conference.

In the third annual WardsAuto Interiors Student Design Competition, young stylists from Detroit’s College for Creative Studies were challenged with creating an interior for a small, practical CUV for a first-time buyer in the year 2025.

Four finalists from a CCS class of 16 talented students, Dexter Carrie, Sean Hahn, Dongwan Jo and Taylor Langhals, were announced at a special ceremony April 25 during the recent SAE World Congress.

The finalists and winners were selected by three top auto industry designers: David Lyon, executive director-interior design, General Motors; Cliff Wilkins, chief designer-Chrysler/Jeep interiors; and Michael Arbaugh, chief designer-vehicle interiors, Ford.

In a ceremony at the WardsAuto Interiors Conference, Dongwan Jo’s hybrid-electric is awarded the grand prize, plus a special Lear Design Innovation Award.

The Lear award is bestowed upon the student whose work includes a specific design or technological innovation the judges deem particularly inspired and forward-thinking.

Judges were impressed by the general execution of Jo’s concept and the integration of the bike into the overall design. They also noted innovative features such as extra detachable battery packs for the bicycles that do double duty as part of the vehicle’s hybrid powertrain when not installed in the bikes.

Soochan Lee wins the IAC EcoBlend award for an outstanding green design that incorporates small personal mobility devices similar to Segways that transport passengers in densely packed cities after they have arrived at a main destination.

Aimed at vastly decreasing traffic and vehicle emissions in urban areas, Lee’s CUV transports occupants between large cities, but then parks in a central location where passengers disembark and use compact onboard electric-powered unicycles to travel to their ultimate destination.

The judges praised Lee’s far-reaching ideas and well-thought-out execution for reducing congestion and pollution in tomorrow’s crowded megacities.

The awards culminate a 15-week project for which WardsAuto partnered with interior suppliers IAC and Lear to sponsor a design competition with students from the CCS Transportation Design Department.

Under the supervision of instructor Robert Walker, a senior designer at Chrysler, students followed a basic design brief created by WardsAuto editors.

The brief called for students to conceive an interior for a small CUV with dimensions similar to a Hyundai Tucson, Jeep Compass or Nissan Juke.

The target customer was a 25-year-old young professional with an active lifestyle, lots of friends and a busy social life.

The brief also includes the following elements:

  • Realistic use of technologies and materials that are likely to be available in 2025.
  • Designs that incorporate new ways of interacting with the vehicle and functions, such as motion sensors, to activate lighting and infotainment functions.
  • Distracted driving needs to be taken into account and discouraged.
  • Manufacturing costs considered so the target price of the vehicle remains affordable in 2025 dollars.
  • Safety features that at least meet 2012 requirements and ideally anticipate stricter guidelines for 2025.
  • Overall design that makes sense for the driver and the chosen brand.

The work of all the students was on display at the WardsAuto Interiors Conference and at the SAE World Congress in April.

dwinter@wardsauto.com